No matter how much attention we bring to our spiritual practice, there can still be those times that have us feeling as though we are being squeezed in situations that are unworkable or unmovable. For instance, you may be experiencing a physical illness or disability. You may feel financially restricted. You may be experiencing a difficult relationship issue, or you may be feeling trapped in your job. Everyone has these difficult times and it is important to use your spiritual resources to buoy yourself—especially in times of difficulty. Indeed, a spiritual practice doesn’t exempt us from the ups and downs of human experience, instead it provides us with an emotional, psychological and physiological lifeboat to carry us over life’s rough seas
There are simple steps that you can begin practicing right now that can help you if you are in a tough spot. Even if your life feels perfect now, practicing these steps will give you more resilience as your life circumstances dance up and down. Creating this kind of spiritual and emotional spaciousness can help you ride over life’s bumps in the road with the suspension of a luxury vehicle instead of feeling like you’re in a decrepit jalopy with bad shocks!
Steps to develop “spaciousness”
1. The very first step is to begin practicing gratitude about where you are in your life right now. Find something(s) in your current life experience for which you are grateful. Even if it feels as though everything has gone bad, look for those things and experiences you are having that are worth celebrating! Be grateful for your senses—the ability to see, or hear, or touch or taste the world. Be grateful for the two-legged and four-legged loved ones you have around you. Be grateful for being able to enjoy nature, even if through a window. Be grateful for the sunrise or the moon in the sky. Be grateful for the rain or snow. Be grateful for water and air. Be grateful that you are alive and able to feel.
It is critical to practice gratitude, “religiously.” This practice will keep you in balance, help to reduce the stress that you may be feeling about the situation and keep you in alignment with the universal flow. Remember that stress can create illness and interfere with your body’s functions, so give a lot of your attention to being grateful. The feelings of gratitude, love, compassion and appreciation all provide us with spiritual, physical and emotional buoyancy!
For those of you that already have a daily gratitude practice-make it something that you attend to several times a day. This is especially important when your situation has you feeling panicky or trapped. You need to keep releasing the restrictions that fear and anger produces in your being.
The buoyancy a gratitude practice provides can keep us from “sinking” into despair when we stumble, lose our way, become discouraged or become impatient. (If you need support for your gratitude practice, please use the guided imageries on Spirit Passages’ “Becoming the New Human” CD– http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Human-Evelyn-Rysdyk-Knowlton/dp/B00006UFP8 )
2. From the place of gratitude, use the shamanic journey or meditation to get a broader perspective about the situation than your mind/personality can grasp. Often times, we trap ourselves when we look at a situation from only the personality’s perspective. In this way, we can “shut down” possibilities before they’ve had a chance to be explored. Using an expansive method like shamanic journeying can help to open up new ideas and fresh perspectives. Getting the “spirit’s eye” view of what is happening can provide a larger context and help to support us to clarify what needs to happen in a new way. I believe that our divine imagination gives us the ability to experience undreamed possibilities. In journeys, dreams and visions, we are able to dream a new reality for ourselves.
3. While using your expansive method of journeying or meditation, ask for felt experiences of the new possibilities. By feeling how we want our life to be, we begin dreaming it into reality. In essence, it helps you to embody changes that you desire to experience. It also gives you a way to test new opportunities! If a possibility presenting itself resonates with the feelings you desire, it can help steer you in the right direction.
4. Once you have felt how the new you or new circumstance will feel, begin doing feeling meditations or prayers. These involve feeling the desired changes as it they have already happened! Feel yourself in it in the present. How does it feel, smell, look or taste to be in this new life? During these meditations or prayers, give yourself permission to immerse yourself fully in the new reality. Doing this along with your gratitude practice can not only shift the perceptions you have about where you are–it can begin to shift the situation itself.
Remember there isn’t just one way to solve the problem. You desire to feel a certain way–feeling it already accomplished is what you bring to the meditation. This begins weaving the solutions that will bring those feelings into reality–perhaps in a form you can’t imagine now! The last thing you want to do is limit universal flow. By releasing any attachment that you have to how your changes will happen, you allow much better circumstances to manifest than you could have imagined!
5. Practice openness so that you’ll be able to see and feel opportunities as they arise. Remember, the solution you desire may not arrive in a package that you expect or imagine. You need to cultivate an openness that will allow you to be able to see possibilities. If you aren’t sure how to do this, do a journey to your primary teacher or take this into a prayer/ meditation to ask how you can best practice openness.
6. Pay attention to what Nature provides for support. Our ancestors always sought the wisdom of nature and looked for signs and support from the Earth. For instance, pay more attention to the cycles of the moon, the seasons and the weather. Nature is always remaking herself. She flows in marvelous cycles and produces miracles at every turn. Celebrate the new beginnings that are around you. Look for signs of new growth, notice shifts in color or changes in temperature and wind direction. If you are near the ocean, pay attention to the pattern of the tides. Notice the signs of movement and growth in the Earth knowing that because you are a part of her, that growing energy is delightfully contagious!
7. Connect with supportive people. You may want to form an alliance with one friend for whom you can provide mutual support. Look for those people who are also growing. You want to gather persons who can both support you where you are now and encourage where you want to be!
8. Keep doing all of these steps. Do not give up. The universe is always moving the pieces on the board, so your job is to be prepared, open and ready to shift as the opportunities arise!
Here is an meditative process that can help you to cultivate feelings of grateful spaciousness:
Breathe with a focus on your heart.
Call those spirits that you trust around you.
Let yourself FEEL their presence and their love for you.
Breathe out any tension–any fear–any doubts.
Breath in with the awareness of being surrounded by loving support.
You are enough. You are loved.
Notice the stillness between your breaths.
In this stillness, you are whole. All is well.
You are a magnificent part of the splendid universe. Breathe in this knowing.
Feel this awareness entering every cell of your being.
Know that you are able to hold onto this feeling.
Gently bring your awareness back your surroundings.
Thank your body, your mind and your connections to All That Is.
© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.